One of the reasons I’ve gotten so into podcasts in the last 9 months (which have largely inspired this post) has a lot to do with my diet. I’m serious. I consistently find myself with a surplus of energy in a suburban environment where the only socially accepted activities are watching TV and quiet conversation in small groups. Also smashing liquor bottles–that is apparently a thing here in Eastern Massachusetts, as the sidewalks are constantly glittering with fresh shards of glass–but I have energy and I need to invest it. So I walk around my neighborhood. Occasionally I run. When I am bored, I’ll walk some more. I feel like a caged animal, pacing in the cage, anxiously awaiting the escape to steep, wild places.

My shoulder (which was injured) is about 90% healed and the fall is here. That means it is time to climb and I am hungry for rock beneath my fingers and air beneath my feet. It’s coming, but not quite yet. While I wait, I am trying to engage my mind which is busy planning our upcoming move into the trailer, in a structured way. There is a story here. I must not lose the details and the thread. So I walk and I listen to others who have their own stories or structures that I can use to frame the chapters that are constantly scrolling through my mind.

I can’t sit still and think. If I sit still, I will wind up refreshing my instagram for the 1000th time or checking to see if we have hit 10,000 downloads of the Adventure RX podcast. I am too worried about who will listen if I take the time to really paint out the corners of the story that is unfolding in our lives. Diabetes. Travel. Insurance. Marriage. Family. These are tough choices that I know many others are facing as well. It requires the calming voices of those who have been there before me to refocus my priorities and commit with vigilance to the execution of my vision and not to succumb to the fear of opening up. This podcast is one of the most beneficial discussions of anything, anywhere. Definitely listen to it after you’ve finished reading this.

If my endorsement of this episode sounds overly general and you think that it can’t be accurate–I assure you that it is and that’s probably why Tim Ferriss has a billion listeners–of which I am one. So much of what I have always struggled with, publicly and privately, boils down to being vulnerable. As I have been edging away from the circle of professional life and prepare to dive back into a modern iteration of the hunter gatherer lifestyle it occurs to me that one of the reasons that I am not a business person and that I wither under the lights of professionalism–is because I run towards vulnerability. I am consistently searching for ways to implement more of it in my life. The entire concept of being a professional is built around eradication of vulnerability. That’s why you’re supposed to approach the business world without emotional investment–because after all, it’s just business, nothing personal.

Where has this gotten us?

For starters, not far. Everything is personal. Whether or not you believe it or like it, the concept of “it’s just business” (or “it’s just politics”) are lies that we have culturally bought into–a sort of spiritual chloroform that gently crushes the independence out of those who would otherwise have the will to resist and swim upstream in a downstream world.

Let’s look at the issue of health insurance and the cost of medical care. This post on the DiabeteSpeaks facebook page illustrated this point pretty effectively:

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I took that picture. I recorded that interview (for the upcoming DiabeteSpeaks Podcast launching this week), and I’ve heard versions of that story many times over–and indeed lived that story for many years of my own adult life. Why do we always whisper about being on medicaid? The system is broken when hard working, educated people can’t survive a commonplace illness on a commonplace income. How did it get so bad that needing medical insurance puts you in a realm that was formerly reserved for the truly destitute? I don’t think that it was through a bunch of malevolent people sitting in a room thinking of ways to abuse the public for their own financial gain. On the other hand, it’s not personal–no one is trying to red tape you into a proverbial corner–“it’s just business, nothing personal.” Yet when your life is confined by a financial moat that you didn’t dig and that you cannot cross on your own–it sure seems a lot more personal. The perspective changes dramatically once you’re on the ass end of the pyramid.

I’ve been on medicaid myself for years in the not-too-distant past. I make no apologies for that fact, as I also paid into it for years when I had less to offer and still gladly do now that I have somewhat more. It’s always been hard for me to talk about the fact that Medicaid is what kept me from going to the dogs in terms of my diabetes–it probably saved my life and it definitely preserved my life. In the past I’ve seen too many posts on my Facebook feed about “entitlements” and lazy people who just want a handout to speak openly about it. Recently, as I’ve been shooting for the DiabeteSpeaks program that Glu is presenting in order to give a greater voice to these issues that don’t often receive a lot of press–I feel a responsibility to be vulnerable by standing up personally to say my piece and help eliminate the stigma and the shame that surrounds many people who rely on some public assistance, like Medicaid, to live. I also want to say that I am thankful that Medicaid was there for me when I needed it and I am thankful that it can be there for others too.

I’m not blaming anyone for stories like these–for stories like mine. I don’t claim to have all the answers necessary to solve these problems but I know that an important starting place is to talk about them and stop feeling bad about doing what we must to survive. If you are reading this and feel the urge to comment below about anything related to “pulling oneself up by their own bootstraps”  and “getting off the government tit” you can be thankful that you’ve never had to choose between medicine and food.  The bottom line is that when people try to tell you that “it’s not personal–just business” don’t buy it. Everything in business is personal if you don’t pick and choose when to look away from the consequences.

Of course this blog is not the entirety of what I have to say about this issue–but you’ll have to wait until this week’s podcast episode is out, as I will be sharing more of my story and doing my best to take a swipe at the stigma that is out there.

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the fact that you are part of our growing community of active and adventurous people with diabetes. I will be offering diabetes coaching services beginning October 1st–and I have space for 5 people who are looking to improve their lifestyle, diabetes control, goal setting and adapt their management to unique, active pursuits. Email me for more info steve@livingvertical.org!